Tag Archives: Milwaukee

Celebrating The Art of French Pastry

Celebrating The Art of French Pastry

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A dreamy five-course Alsatian dinner at Rêve Patisserie and Café celebrates “The Art of French Pastry” and inspires an amateur baker.  Read all about it over at Moxie Girl Productions.

Coast-to-Coffice: Liquid Johnny’s

Coast-to-Coffice: Liquid Johnny’s

Liquid Johnny's, free Wi-Fi, Merlot, Wisconsin State Fair RV Park, coffice, freelance, working on the road

Liquid Johnny’s is a bar and restaurant on the corner of 76th Street and West Main Street in Milwaukee, easy walking distance from the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park.  I wrote a post about it back in September after we’d discovered it when we were working Harley’s 110th.

In addition to an amazing Fish Fry Friday, Liquid Johnny’s has free Wi-Fi.  The place is small and casual, with a bar on one side and four-seat tables on the other.  Laminated menus stay tucked up against the wall at each table.  It’s not really a sports bar, but there are plenty of TVs scattered around if you want to catch the game.  Although there’s no charge for Wi-Fi, you do need to ask for the password.

One night when I still had work to do and Mike wanted to have dinner with a colleague, we headed to Liquid Johnny’s.  I had some chips and salsa with a glass of Merlot while Mike chatted with his friend.  It was a nifty twist on the usual coffice experience!

$5 movie night at the Majestic

$5 movie night at the Majestic

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The Marcus Majestic on the outskirts of Milwaukee may look retro, but it’s got all the modern amenities to make for a fun night out at the movies.   The place has 16 state-of-the-art auditoriums, including two 72-foot-wide, 3-story-tall UltraScreens®.   The bowtie-wearing clerks and grand piano in the middle of the lobby give it an upscale feel.  Food and drink choices go well beyond the usual concession stand favorites to include the Take Five Cocktail Lounge, Zaffiro’s Pizza Café, and Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Shop.  You can eat at the tables scattered throughout the lobby before your show, or you can bring everything in with you.    Mike and I split a small pizza and some cheesy garlic bread and carried them in to our screening of Homefront with Jason Statham.

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The Majestic makes the dinner-and-a-movie experience into an all-in-one event with Big Screen Bistro In-Theatre Dining.  While watching the latest blockbuster, you sit in a big, comfy chair, sip beer, wine or a cocktail, and nosh on tasty restaurant fare.   Free Wi-Fi means you can get some work done, too, before the lights go down.  Spots book quickly, so be sure to make your online reservation as soon as you can.

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If you’re on a budget, be sure to check out $5 movie day.  On Tuesdays, every movie, all day, costs only $5, AND you get a free small popcorn!

Coast-to-Coffice: Colectivo Fifth Ward

Coast-to-Coffice: Colectivo Fifth Ward

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Sharing space with other commercial enterprises, Colectivo‘s Fifth Ward location upcycles a discarded building into a cool coffeehouse that pays homage to the past.  The Foundry café, in Milwaukee’s emerging Fifth Ward neighborhood, is housed in the former Kramer International foundry.

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When Milwaukee was first settled, the Fifth Ward encompassed the area south of the Fourth Ward, between the Milwaukee River and First Avenue.  Over time, that area was absorbed into Walker’s Point.  Unfortunately, as the years went by, Walker’s Point became associated with crime and pollution.  Interest in historic preservation and a desire to make the Fifth Ward more appealing prompted the re-adoption of the name.  Interestingly, Colectivo (which was then Alterra) began roasting on the fifth floor of a warehouse in Walker’s Point.

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The Kramer International foundry produced non-ferrous and ferrous products for pump manufacturers.  The café honors that manufacturing tradition and history with its post-industrial design.

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As with all the Colectivo shops, everything is baked fresh every day at the Bay View location.  They source from local farms as much as possible, and they also partner with other Wisconsin food producers.  Wi-Fi is free, although it does ask you to re-accept the usage agreement after a couple of hours.

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The Fifth Ward location – with its friendly baristas, funky ambiance, reliable Wi-Fi, and range of great beverages and food – is an eccentric yet cozy place to be productive.

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Coast-to-Coffice: a 24-hour joint with Greek flair

Coast-to-Coffice: a 24-hour joint with Greek flair

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Pegasus Restaurant, on Greenfield Avenue in Milwaukee, is just a couple of blocks away from the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park.  It has coffee and tea to go with the free Wi-Fi, but it’s not the fancy stuff.  We’re talking basic beans and bags of Lipton here.  But that’s not the reason for making Pegasus your coffice du jour… or de la nuit.

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Pegasus is a grown-up version of the all-night college diner.  It’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The tables are spacious; the booths are roomy. It’s casual, so there’s no pressure to dress fancy or worry about breaking out your laptop.

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You get free wine or beer or dessert with your meal.  Before you get too excited, though, the gratis vino is a choice been a Chablis or a rose.  Did I mention it’s not fancy?  If you’d rather drink outside the box, they have some cool retro cocktails to choose from.   How fun would it be to mix new and old by writing a blog post while sipping a Brandy Manhattan!

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Pretty in pink: a blushing Greek dressing

The menu is made up mostly of classic American dishes, but some Greek selections are sprinkled in.  The Greek salad dressing is a lovely shade of pink with crumbles of feta, and I give the place props for serving their salads on chilled plates.  The spinach pie is a well balanced blend of veggie and cheese with a nice flaky crust. The chicken breast is tender.  Serving sizes are generous.  I brought most of my entree home and enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

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Athenian Style Chicken Breast & Spinach Pie with rice pilaf and Athenian sauce

So the next time a deadline means you’re working at midnight and all the usual coffices have gone dark, Pegasus might be just the place to work, drink, and get your Greek on.

Art, history and exercise

Art, history and exercise

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Around 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, it was in the mid-30s.  Practically a heat wave in Milwaukee.  So Mike and I bundled up, hopped on our folding bikes, and pedaled off down the pavement.

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The Hank Aaron State Trail, named for baseball legend Hank Aaron, abuts the back of the RV park.  The trail follows the Menomonee River from Lake Michigan west about 13.5 miles.  We’d never really explored it.

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Right by the park, the trail’s not the prettiest, even in the spring when everything’s in bloom.  But it holds some surprises.  Roughly three miles in, we discovered the Valley Passage mural.  Technically known as the Menomonee Valley Passage mural, it was painted in 2011 by artist Chad Brady.

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The colorful mural is designed to represent the Miller Park area, Potawatomi Casino, the Brewers, The Milwaukee Road, bridges, buildings, birds, deer, Native Americans, fish, the Menomonee River, trees, manufacturing and canoeing.

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The trail also goes through the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District, which is one of three remaining original Soldiers Homes in the country. Since 1867, the homes have provided refuge and recuperation for physically and mentally disabled soldiers – starting with those who had survived the Civil War.  Three of the buildings are being restored, but amazingly, the rest are still being used to care for veterans today.

You just never know what you’re going to find in your own backyard.

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Coast-to-Coffice: Colectivo Lakefront

Coast-to-Coffice: Colectivo Lakefront

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I’ve been sharing my coffices for a while now, but I’ve decided to formalize my reviews under a “Coast-to-Coffice” column.  My focus will be on locally owned, small business establishments, rather than the chains (although I enjoy working at Starbucks on occasion, too).  I’ve also added a page to the blog devoted to coffices.  That way, anyone who might be looking for a place to work and get to know a community while enjoying awesome beverages (and yummy eats) can check out where we’ve been.

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Colectivo Coffee began its life in Milwaukee as Alterra Coffee in 1993.   After years of building the business locally, Alterra attracted national attention, and the company sold its name and certain artistic assets to Mars Drinks.  They ultimately gave up their connection with Mars and renamed themselves Colectivo, a name which was “inspired by the artful and funky buses used for public transportation across Latin America, ‘colectivos’ (co-lec-TEE-vo), and the iconic part of everyday life they represent for everyday people”.  There are 12 cafes in the state, eight of which are in Milwaukee and its suburbs.

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The Lakefront location is across from McKinley Marina in the historic Milwaukee River Flushing Station which was built in 1888.  The Flushing Station’s purpose was to flush out pollution by pumping fresh water from Lake Michigan into the Milwaukee River. The cafe inhabits two-thirds of the building, and the flushing pump, which is still functioning, takes up the remaining third.

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My first reaction to learning that the coffee shop was in an old flushing station was, “Eww!”  A collaboration between a food and beverage company and the Milwaukee Metropolian Sewerage District seems kind of gross.  But, when you visit, all the nasty images are replaced by the quirky look and cool vibe Colectivo has created, not to mention the living museum quality of the flushing station elements.

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Colectivo’s Lakefront location goes beyond creating a sort of living history to include environmentally-friendly features.  There’s apparently a wetland garden that captures and filters parking lot runoff, although we couldn’t see it while we were there in late November.  And, supposedly plants on the grounds are irritgated by rainfall from the roof that’s routed into barrels.  The three levels of the cafe are made from recycled materials like wood decking from an old soap factory, brick and steel recovered from pre-existing buildings, and salvaged pump room wood.

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But what about the coffee?  The coffee is excellent, likely a result of the long-term farmer and co-op partnerships Colectivo has developed over the years. Colectivo also offers Letterbox Fine Teas, a hand-selected line of teas.  And the food’s pretty good, too.  Like the coffee, prices are reasonable.  Everything is baked fresh every day at the Bay View location.  They source from local farms as much as possible, and they also partner with other Wisconsin food producers.  Wi-Fi is free, although it does ask you to re-accept the usage agreement after a couple of hours.

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Every summer, the Lakefront location is also host to the Florentine Opera and Musica del Lago outdoor music series.  It’ll be fun to check that out when we’re here in the warm weather.

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